“My interpretation of a teabowl (Non functional)
I have decided to make a series of work that take the form of a small teabowl. These pieces are made as small experimental forms, exploring surfaces that will directly feed into my new body of work ‘Grace’. Rather than a series of test tiles I thought the bowl form would serve as a way of making a beautiful, interesting non-functional object.”
The chawan, or Japanese teabowl, is a widely venerated ceramic form, an object with huge appeal among Western artists, collectors and audiences more generally. Teabowls were part of the collections that French Japanophiles Philippe Burty and Siegfred Bing brought back from the East in the late 19th century, a cultural import that initiated japonisme–a craze for all things Japanese, which counted Emile Zola and Vincent van Gogh among its fans. In the UK, Bernard Leach celebrated the aesthetic qualities of early Japanese tea-masters’ wares as a part of his tireless advocacy of early Chinese, Korean and Japanese ceramics throughout the 20th century. His own writing, including A Potter’s Book (1940) and production of teabowls now in the Tate collection demonstrates how Leach was in thrall to Japanese folkcraft (mingei), an appreciation he passed on to many of his students and admirers.